Student selected components as an educational platform for teaching medical students about clinical pharmacology and quality improvement activities

Olayinka A. Ogundipe


Student selected components (SSCs) are increasingly described elements of medical undergraduate education, training and curricula. SSCs offer the potential for integration into both traditional (‘pre-clinical’ versus ‘clinical’) medical curricula, as well as into other innovative or evolving medical training curricula. This article employs a structured and descriptive approach to exemplify the process by which year 1 medical students were supported in a practical manner to undertake a distinct small group SSC project. In this illustration, the SSC was focused on a quality improvement (QI) topic of relevance to clinical pharmacology and therapeutics (CPT), and involved a review of the anticholinergic burden of inpatient prescriptions for a defined cohort. The SSC was completed in the context of a teaching hospital’s medicine of the elderly (MoE) clinical service. In a sequential manner, the paper describes experiential learning points from the perspective of a supervisor of an SSC project. The paper offers educational value with a potential for generalisable application to non-clinical and clinical educationalists. Furthermore, the paper offers guidance to supervisors, teachers, tutors and facilitators, with encouragement to consider how they may design similar projects for the training of undergraduate medical students in centres that they are affiliated with. The paper also highlights another key driver for productive SSCs i.e. the central principle of striving to promote projects and activities that support active student engagement, rather than merely passive inclusion.


Anticholinergic burden, Clinical pharmacology, Medical education, Medicine of the elderly, Student selected component, Quality improvement

Full Text:



Murdoch-Eaton D, Ellershaw J, Garden A. Student-selected components in the undergraduate medical curriculum: a multi-institutional consensus on purpose. Med Teacher. 2004;26:33-8.

Payne G, Thomson A, Flood C. Special study modules should be more diverse. Student Br Med J. 2000;8:468.

Bidwai A. SSMs are my saviour. Student Br Med J. 2000;8:339-40.

Cross P. Getting the most out of SSMs. Student Br Med J. 2003;11;336-7.

Riley, SC. Ferrell, WR, Gibbs, TJ, Murphy, MJ and Smith, WCS. Twelve tips for developing and sustaining a programme of student selected components. Med Teacher. 2008;30:370-6.

Riley SC, Gibbs TJ, Ferrell WR, Nelson PR, Smith WCS, Murphy MJ. Getting the most out of student selected components: 12 tips for participating students. Med Teacher. 2009;31(10):895-902.

Riley SC. Student Selected Components: AMEE Guide 46. Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE), Dundee, UK. 2010.

Murphy MJ, Seneviratne RDA, Remers OJ, Davis MH. Student selected components: student-designed modules are associated with closer alignment of planned and learnt outcomes. Med Teacher. 2009;31:489-93.

Riley SC. Student Selected Components: AMEE Guide 46. Med Teacher. 2009;31:885-94.

Hounsell D, McCune V, Hounsell J, Litjens J. The quality of guidance and feedback to students. Higher Educ Res Develop. 2008;27:55-67.

Murphy MJ, Seneviratne RDA, McAleer, SP, Remers OJ, Davis MH. Student selected components: do students learn what teachers think they teach? Med Teacher. 2008;30:175-9.

Gannon E, Mallon E, Lannon R. 206 Audit of Anticholinergic Medication Burden in Nursing Home Residents and Associated Falls Risk. Age Ageing. 2018;47(5):13-60.

Marcum Z, Wirtz H, Pettinger M, LaCroix A, Carnahan R, Cauley J, et al. Anticholinergic medication use and falls in postmenopausal women: findings from the women’s health initiative cohort study. BMC Geriatr. 2016;16(1).

Zia A, Kamaruzzaman S, Myint P, Tan M. Anticholinergic burden is associated with recurrent and injurious falls in older individuals. Maturitas. 2016;84:32-7.

Fox C, Richardson K, Maidment I, Savva G, Matthews F, Smithard D, et al. Anticholinergic Medication Use and Cognitive Impairment in the Older Population: The Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Study. J Am Geriatric Soc. 2011;59(8):1477-83.

Aizenberg D, Sigler M, Weizman A, Barak Y. Anticholinergic Burden and the Risk of Falls Among Elderly Psychiatric Inpatients: A 4-Year Case-Control Study. Int Psychogeriatr. 2002;14(3):307-10.

Ogundipe OA. Undergraduate training in geriatric medicine in the UK. Age Ageing. 2007;36(1):109-10.

Newbegin RM, Rhodes JC, Flood LM, Richardson HC. Student-selected components: bringing more ENT into the undergraduate curriculum. J Laryngol Otol. 2007;121:783-5.

Fletcher G, Agius RM. The Special Study Module: a novel approach to undergraduate teaching in occupational medicine. Occup Med. 1995;45:326-8.

Ogundipe OA. Knowledge-based assessments: maintaining rigour in standard setting processes. Clin Med. 2007;7(2):200-1.

Qureshi S, Jones H, Adamson J, Ogundipe OA. Ageing Simulation for Promoting Empathy in Medical Students. BMJ Simulation & Technology Enhanced Learning. BMJ Stel. 2017;3(2):79-81.

Ogundipe OA. Education and Training Update: Maintaining an Effective Medical Training Portfolio. Brit J Hosp Med. 2008;69(10):587-9.

Furmedge DS. Teaching skills: a school-based special study module. Med Educ. 2008;42:1140.